Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact

Mobile Active 2008 South African NGO NetworkThe Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) and MobileActive.org will host the MobileActive08 Summit from 13-15 October 2008 at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. The theme of the event is “Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Technology for Social Impact”.

With more than 350 confirmed participants from over 40 countries, this will be the largest international event to date focusing on this topic and one of the most important ICT4D events to be hosted in Africa in 2008.

Speaking at the end of September 2008 at the United Nations in New York during a high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Hamadoun TourĂ©, announced that worldwide mobile cellular subscribers are likely to reach the 4 billion mark before the end of this year. “The fact that 4 billion subscribers have been registered worldwide indicates that it is technically feasible to connect the world to the benefits of ICT and that it is a viable business opportunity”, he stated. “Clearly, ICTs have the potential to act as catalysts to achieve the 2015 targets of the MDGs.”

However, even with ubiquity of access, the challenge to development practitioners and technology experts is how best to adapt and translate growth and innovation in mobile technology in support of specific development challenges. As a result, there is an urgent need to share lessons learned to date and explore the most effective use of this technology.

At MobileActive08, participants will explore how mobile phones are used to advance development work in different parts of the world, assess the current state of knowledge in the use and effectiveness of mobile technology to advance social action, and investigate trends, needs and investment opportunities. Specific attention will be given to the role of mobile technology in health, human rights, economic development, research, advocacy, citizen journalism and democratic participation.

According to David Barnard, Executive Director of SANGONeT, “During the first day and a half of the event more than 60 speakers will share their experiences through a variety of workshops and skill-share sessions, rotating mini-talks, SIMlabs and SIMplaces. The second part of MobileActive08 will be conducted in an ‘open space’ format where participants will delve more deeply into the topics discussed during the first part of the event.”

Some of the key mobile experts that will make presentations at the event include Brian Richardson of Wizzit, Jonathan Donner of Microsoft, Peter Benjamin of Cell-Life, Russell Southwood of Balancing Act and Erik Hersman of Ushahidi.

Go to the MobileActive website for the detailed information about the programme and speakers.

Delegates will include NGO and development practitioners, mobile technologists, researchers studying the use of mobile phones, government officials, and representatives from the international donor community and telecommunications industry.

The MobileActive08 Summit is supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Microsoft, Department of Communications, Vodacom, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership, HIVOS, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Ford Foundation and Torque IT.

SANGONeT’s new corporate identity and the new SANGONeT NGO Portal, NGO Pulse, will also be launched during the event.

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For additional comments and media accreditation, please contact:

David Barnard, Executive Director
Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT)
Tel: (011) 403-4935 or Cell: 082 870-8968
E-mail: dbarnard@sangonet.org.za

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First part of interview with Damaria Senne

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Some of the important things I mentioned are as follows ** 2014 updates **

  1. There is a big gap between what parents think children do online, and what they really do, especially because mobile phones seem harmless.
  2. MXit was the fastest growing social network, mobile app in 2007 but it pales in comparison to Facebook or Whatsapp, which are both much easier to use.
  3. Trend 1 – Accelerated development: Dr Suagta Mitra confirmed my prediction with his TED Prize speech on self organised learning environments for children. It is the most important application of technology to learning, especially in the primary stages of life for parents to understand.
  4. Trend 2 – Lack of Social Skills: The severity of this cannot be underestimated. Teenagers seems helpless without their mobile phones, and most dare not initiate contact with a stranger let alone a someone from opposite sex.
  5. Trend 3 – User generated content: This continues to explore. Even though content is king, the quality drops in proportion to the amount produced. There’s also a plethora of apps that generated variations or produce remixes of your content from Twitter, etc.
  6. Privacy is still the #1 issue. The lack of understand is reinforced by the ignorance of users, customers and everyone who keeps buying into the hype of the latest, the newest, the next upgrade. Recommended watching: Privacy is dead – Get over it by Steven Rambam/